We are most used to hearing about drones, or unmanned aircraft, in the context of the military and international conflicts. The use of drones, however, is not limited to this sphere of operation, and drones are currently at use domestically for public safety, disaster mitigation, and environmental and climate monitoring. The Insurance Journal reports that the industry group Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has been lobbying the FAA to make changes to its regulations that would allow air space for unmanned vehicles and permit a greater range of government and commercial uses for drones.
The linked article provides an overview of the possibilities and challenges of using drones for insurance claim operations. On the one hand, they provide unmatched speed to the area where a loss has occurred, as well as aerial views not easily achieved by the human adjuster. Not only would this reduce the need for skilled adjusters, it would also reduce the company's number of worker comp claims, as fewer adjusters would be in the field.
On the other hand, adoption of drones creates another potential skills-bottleneck, as the need for drone operators would increase. In addition, even if the FAA makes adjustments in its regulations, there is still a host of legal and privacy issues relating to drone use that would have to be addressed.
While this is just speculation, one can expect that, given the combination of human nature, the drive to adopt new technologies, and the potential to reduce the size and liabilities of its workforce, that insurers will explore the use of drones aggressively in the near future.